Grand Canyon R2R2R

  • Creator
  • #46970

    I’ve been working through the concepts and training from this website. 5 months ago started to train for R2R2R, Grand Canyon. Went with long time partner who did not train the UA way. He normally is waiting for me on trips. I’m 63 and have had major cancer 2x, he’s 55 and healthy. Result is relative to my own performance, this is not any kind of record or major accomplishment except for my own feeling of joy. It was awesome! We went from South to North and back to Cottonwood on Day 1. 30 miles and almost 6K vertical up. I had to continuously slow down and wait for my partner, a new feeling. We slept for a few hours and then back at it. When we got to the up for the South Rim return, I knew my partner was in trouble. Barely making 500 vertical feet in an hour. With 3K vertical left I knew he was done. I strapped his pack to mine, he was carrying about 20lbs and I had about 15 lbs. I did the remaining 3K vertical to the top in 90 min. You should have seen the strange looks I got passing people going uphill without packs and me with 2 strapped together. I loved it. Dropped the packs at the car and went back downhill with snacks and hot coffee. Managed to get my partner to the car. All good. I felt like I could have gone back down to the bottom and climbed again! Thanks so much UA. I know in the big scheme of things this is nothing, but after 5 months of daily sub AeT with a 20% Body Weight pack on and thousands of feet vertical my fitness has really changed. Now on to some big challenges. But first a soak in my spa. Thanks again!

  • Participant
    Diana on #47027

    That’s an amazing story! A true “nose to the wind” experience. Congratulations.

    I think stories like these are extremely important. The experience you just described is what I seek with my training. Sometimes I question myself when people ask the dreaded, “What are you training for?” and my answer is just long days in the mountains with friends, not a particular race, pace, or distance. I notice that the greater endurance community can be very focused on going hard or going huge, regardless of how destroyed one feels during and after these objectives, and I don’t relate to that. In fact, I think it’s unhealthy. To feel better than you thought you would on a big day out is the ultimate prize to me, so again, congrats! You crushed it and you earned it.

    bbarlin10 on #47176


    Thank you. I’m just an old guy trying to stay young. After 2 bouts with cancer, getting out and training is how I reaffirm that I’m alive and kicking.

    Shashi on #47215

    As Diana said, it’s an amazing story and very inspiring. Thank you for sharing your experience.

    Anonymous on #47765

    This is SO AWESOME. Good work. Well done. You are a poster child (even at 63).

    I love the comparison to your hiking partner. My guess, judging by his finish, is that he prefers doing more high-intensity training. That would explain why he ran out of gas. He was practicing using the wrong fuel for that objective. Hopefully he now sees the light.

    bbarlin10 on #47866

    Scott agree I’ve sent him multiple links to your website. I will convert him.

    fincalacapitana on #48261

    Great job!

    AshRick on #48699

    This is awesome to hear. I’m 60 and will be doing R2R2R in late April with my son. He does 14rs all summer and goes uphill like a mountain goat. I hope to not slow him too much!

    Our goal is 12 hours. That’s 2x the FKT and I’ve done some other (shorter) routes in about 2x the standing FKT. I’m in week one of adding ME to my routine. I think that’s what I’ve been missing. I have the AeT base, but my legs blow up going steep uphill for very long.

    bbarlin10 on #48719

    Hey that’s great. Shared memories with your son are priceless. I climbed Kilimanjaro a couple of years ago with my daughter. Wonderful.

    You probably have already thought this through but just to give you some numbers. The route is 50 miles. My friend who is in his 40’s and a distance runner did it in 13 hours, he is in amazing shape and said it was the hardest thing he had ever done. It is really difficult to sustain that pace going uphill. For instance it is about 22 miles from Bright Angel Campground and 5800 vertical feet to the top at N Rim with a constant elevation gain. So maybe walking the up hills? If yes then you have to obviously go much faster on the flats. Don’t forget you have about 5100 vertical feet up on the way back to S Rim. For comparison I did it in 22 hours at a fast walk/jog where I could and the uphill slogs at a walk. My downhill was kinda slow too, have to watch out for old knees. I am simply not capable of running a fast pace for 50 miles and never will be again. But I can walk fast for extended periods as long as I stay below my AeT.

    I have a suggestion. Reserve a room at the N Rim lodge. It sells out quickly so get it far in advance. Then if you are destroyed by the pace you have an insurance policy. You can rest over night, get a couple of meals and finish the next day. If you have support, like a spouse, you could have her meet you with camping gear and you could stay at the N Rim campground for cheap (they also have showers there). Good luck, it will be memorable (or epic) anyway you look at it.

    AshRick on #48720

    We’re going from the S Kaibab trailhead, start and finish. That’s about 41 miles. But all of the uphill — about 11,000ft. Hard to know how it will go. I did Half Dome in October (on my 60th) from Happy Isles. About 14 miles and 5,000 ft of uphill. I got up in 2:35 and round trip in 4:40. At 3x the miles and over twice the climbing…R2R2R is going to be tough. The thought of starting that 6.5 mile 5,000ft climb at the end…gives me motivation to keep the training up!

    Anonymous on #49096

    @richard-ashburn: I agree with @bbarlin10. Your plan sounds aggressive. It’d be wise to plan a much longer trip than 12 hours. Planning for 12 and ending up at double that will be a horrible experience. (Unless that’s the type of memory you’re going for.)

    In particular, compared to Half Dome, the math doesn’t work:

    * 14 miles, 5,000′ in 4h40m;
    * Let’s use a fudgy formula of 6.5 mph for the distance and 2,000’/hr for the gain;
    * If R2R2R is 52 miles and 10,000′; then
    * That suggests a time of 13 hours, but only if you can sustain the same pace, which is unlikely.

    The pace you can hold for ~5 hours will be faster than the pace that you can hold for multiples of that. “Trees don’t grow to the sky” as they say…

    You’ll be carrying more food, more water, more gear. And the growing fatigue will be much greater.

    Again, as @bbarlin10 suggested, I would plan for much longer than 12 hours and have the hotel as a backup plan.

    Anonymous on #49098

    The one qualifier would be the intensity of your Half Dome ascent. If it felt super casual and relaxed, then maybe a faster pace is possible for R2R2R. But again, with my fudgy math, the Half Dome pace will be about 13 hours, so it seems like you’re planning to go faster than Half Dome.

    Anonymous on #49099

    Lastly, I’m always happy to be proven wrong. Let us know how it goes.

    Participant on #51026

    The thought of starting that 6.5 mile 5,000ft climb at the end…gives me motivation to keep the training up!

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